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You’ve finished a long work week of video meetings and you’re looking forward to some hard-earned video work drinks. You’re gearing up for a weekend of video calls with family and you’ll fit a video quiz night in there. Maybe you even make a little on the side with other on-camera activities. That’s fine, no judgment, you do you. But if you’re like everyone else (at least, everyone in the third of all humanity currently on lockdown) you’ll be experiencing a brand-new phenomenon known as Zoom Fatigue.
The What Now?
Zoom Fatigue is a new and exciting syndrome, available now wherever virtual communication is held. Basically we’re tired of being on camera. There’s a few excellent reasons for this:
- Analysis Paralysis: Our faces, clothing and backgrounds are under scrutiny, and worse, we can see ourselves. Our attention to the meeting competes with our own self-criticism (or admiration), constantly checking our image and assessing it. Put your camera at eye height at least, for the same reason you hold your phone up high to take a selfie. You only need one chin at this meeting.
- Lack of cues: Our brains have to work doubly hard to read social cues. Body language becomes less available to us. Finding moments to interject are tricky, and it’s impossible to share a meaningful eye roll with someone without everyone else thinking it’s for them. Awkward.
- In Your Face: Science Fiction predicted video calling becoming the norm, but when it became widely available we all opted to text instead. Lockdown has made video calling compulsory, even though most of us wouldn’t choose to do it. Video calls intrude into our personal spaces in a way that can make us resentful, with few of the psychological benefits of personal contact.
- Technical Difficulties: good video meetings rely on good tech. No crashes, no lag that messes up the conversational flow, no distortion on the video or audio, no waiting for Dave to find the screenshare button and then close his seventeen cat meme windows. But we don’t all live in podcast lofts so bad tech is an occupational hazard.
IT’S SO TIRING
Right? All we can say is hang in there, do your best, and try to go easy on your team. If you can alternate virtual meetings and phone calls/emails, do it. Give people a break while you raise a glass to yourself for having handled another week. Didn’t it just ZOOM by? Sorry.